NS: HRM considering changes to accessible taxi rules

Ruth Davenport, Metro Halifax
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Halifax Taxi Drivers Owners Association president Dave Buffett told the Transportation Standing Committee Tuesday that current rules need to be changed in order to ensure service for people with disabilities in all HRM taxi zones.

Halifax taxi drivers lined up waiting for drivers in this file photo — Metro

[HALIFAX, NS] - City staff are looking into a list of proposed changes to accessible taxi regulations in HRM.

Halifax Taxi Drivers Owners Association president Dave Buffett told the Transportation Standing Committee Tuesday that current rules need to be changed in order to ensure service for people with disabilities in all HRM taxi zones.

As it stands, accessible taxis aren’t restricted to a single zone, as are conventional taxis.

“The result is that in the HRM drivers buy accessible taxis simply to get a Halifax rooflight,” states Buffett’s presentation. “Only four of the over 30 accessible taxis pick up persons with a wheelchair.”

The association is recommending dividing all accessible cabs equally among the existing taxi zones to ensure equal access for people with disabilities.

Buffett also told the committee that all new licenses issued in HRM from now on should be for accessible taxis — specifically minivans — equipped to carry two wheelchairs simultaneously.

“If two people in wheelchairs are going downtown…they both pay 15, 20, 30 dollars,” he said. “With a two-chair capacity…it means people can take the taxi plus 70 cents, none of this two taxis.”

The association also recommends that accessible taxis be dispatched in the same manner as conventional cabs. Currently, anyone who calls for an accessible van is given a list of phone numbers and told to deal directly with the driver.

HRM’s regional coordinator of taxi and limousine services told the committee the provincial Motor Vehicle Act has several stipulations that affect HRM’s taxi service.

“(We) cannot directly or indirectly limit the vehicle,” he said. “We cannot limit the number of drivers and we cannot limit the type of clientele to which those services are offered.”

Hindle said HRM staff have begun legal consultations on the proposals and could have a report back to the committee in April.

Organizations: Transportation Standing Committee

Geographic location: HRM

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